Judge: Diamondhead incorporation trial will not start over

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A decision on whether Diamondhead will become a city could come as soon as January. Judge Billy Bridges decided not to order a new incorporation trial. Instead, he will base his decision on a review of the transcripts.

Bridges took on the case after the original judge died without making a ruling.

The number of people wanting to witness the latest of the Diamondhead Incorporation saga was too much for a Hancock County courtroom. After thinning the crowd, attorneys argued the incorporation case should move forward based on testimony from the trial back in January.

"We believe, but for Judge Middleton's untimely death, that Diamondhead would be a city at this point in time," attorney Jerry Mills said. "So our request is quite clear that we simply utilize the record. I don't know of anything else to do short of retrying a case that has been fully tried."

"I can tell you, I'm not going to retry this case," Judge Billy Bridges said.

Incorporation opponents were disappointed the case would not be retried, and said they would take advantage of the two weeks the judge is allowing for additional filings.

Incorporation opponent John Fletcher said, "The findings of fact that he [the judge] has do not mention any of the objectors' testimony. Only the ones in favor of it. So we're going to have to go and put in our objections."

After the two weeks have passed, Judge Bridges said a decision should come within 30 days.

"I have pending about 50 cases," said the judge. "So I can tell you I will do the best I can."

Opponents said they're already preparing for after the ruling.

"If this thing goes forward and they allow the incorporation, we're allowed ten days to appeal to the Supreme Court," Fletcher said. "We'll do that."

Judge Bridges pledged that politics will play no role in his eventual decision.

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